More than 30 other states that have chosen to expand their Medicaid program have seen substantial budget savings, allowing them to invest in priorities like education and economic development. In fact, data from Kentucky and Arkansas show more than $1 billion in savings from those two states alone. If other states have found a responsible way to expand health coverage for their citizens and save taxpayer dollars, we should be able to do it here in Kansas.
Keeping Kansas In Control
Expanding health coverage through KanCare allows our state to build on our own program, instead of letting Washington, D.C., dictate what our state does. We can develop a Kansas-centric solution that works for us, making sure enrollees are held accountable and responsible in the process.
Kansas has the opportunity accept federal funding to expand KanCare. Like the 30 states that have so far expanded their programs since 2014, our state can extend health care coverage to uninsured Kansans with the federal government paying no less than 90% of the cost. Kansans’ federal tax rate is not affected by our decision to expand or not — if we do not expand, our tax dollars simply go to other states that have.
Kansas taxpayers are already sending the money to expand KanCare to Washington. Our legislature has an opportunity to bring our hard-earned federal tax dollars back home to Kansas — using that funding to provide affordable health care coverage to more residents of our state, and at the same time create jobs and reduce state health care costs. If we don’t bring that money back to Kansas, then it will just end up going to California, Colorado, New York and other states that have chosen to provide health coverage to their residents.
Protecting Access to Care, Especially In Rural Areas
Access to local and quality hospital care should be a cornerstone of every Kansas community, from large cities like Wichita to small rural towns across our state. But taking care of so many uninsured Kansans is one of the reasons that many hospitals are struggling, with one in Independence recently forced to close. When a hospital closes, it means fewer options for local residents, often forcing them to travel further for basic medical care and emergency services. It also means the loss of jobs and an economic cornerstone of our communities and neighborhoods.
Hardworking Families Can’t Afford Coverage Today
Today in Kansas, there are more than 150,000 Kansans who don’t make enough money to afford quality health insurance but have incomes that are too high to qualify for KanCare, the state’s Medicaid program. Among these Kansans are more than 7,400 veterans and their spouses. These are family members, friends, and fellow Kansans who work in jobs like farming, retail, and food services. They are stuck in the middle with no affordable insurance options.
We can improve KanCare so that it provides new health coverage options to more low-income families and individuals right here in Kansas, most of whom work for a living but cannot afford to purchase health care coverage on their current salaries. This is about providing an opportunity to help people purchase their own health care coverage and giving them a hand up to improve their lives.
Expanding KanCare will give hardworking families the security of knowing that they can finally get affordable, quality health care when they need it — without facing the risk of huge medical bills or bankruptcy.
It’s important to remember that KanCare is only available to U.S. citizens and legal residents. Health coverage through KanCare is not, and will not be available to undocumented immigrants.